Cover Stories

by Kieran Healy on September 26, 2006

Via “Unfogged”: and “ThinkProgress”:, Newsweek’s current cover as it varies by geographical region:

I commend them for sparing the world from “Annie Leibowitz”: The funny thing is that the graphic is right there “on Newsweek’s own site”: I went back and looked for others. Here are the covers from the week before last.

War on Science Watch

by John Holbo on September 26, 2006

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration has blocked release of a report that suggests global warming is contributing to the frequency and strength of hurricanes, the journal Nature reported Tuesday.

The report drew a prompt response from Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg D-N.J., who charged that “the administration has effectively declared war on science and truth to advance its anti-environment agenda … the Bush administration continues to censor scientists who have documented the current impacts of global warming.”

via C&L

Hey, someone should write a book about this sort of thing. Maybe give away a companion to the book for good measure. (Admittedly, this report may be premature – the report about the report, that is. The actual Nature article title ends with a question mark, “Is the US hurricane report being quashed?”)

I didn’t mention this in my previous post: Mooney’s book [amazon] is now out in paperback – and cheap! (And it’s got search inside. So if you want to research various figures’ involvement in the debate, you can do so efficiently online.)

Like pasting feathers together and hoping for a duck

by John Holbo on September 26, 2006

If you haven’t, you should read this Intel-Dump post, “National Insecurity”. And then read all 154 comments. If every American voter had to read the whole thread (it’s only, like, 30,000 words) I think the Democrats would get about 70% of the popular vote, showing most dramatic improvement in red states. Of course, we would still have no real plan for Iraq, sadly. But accountability starts at home. [click to continue…]

John M. Ford has died

by Henry Farrell on September 26, 2006

Making Light tells us that John M. Ford has died. I didn’t know him at all personally, but I loved his work. “The Dragon Waiting” is perhaps his best novel, but some of his short stories are even better. This extract from “Scrabble with God” (stolen from Brad DeLong ) gives some idea of his sense of humour.

I don’t recommend playing with God. It isn’t that he cheats, exactly. But the other night we were in the middle of a game, I was about thirty points up, and He emptied out his rack. ZWEEGHB. Double word score and the fifty-point bonus.

“Zweeghb?” I said.

“Is that a challenge?”

“Well…” If you challenge God and you’re wrong, you lose the points and get turned into a pillar of salt.

“Look outside,” He said. So I did. Sure enough, there was a zweeghb out there, eating the rosebushes, like Thurber’s unicorn.

“I thought you rested from creating stuff.”

“Eighth day, I did. Now I’m fresh as a daisy. You going to pass or play?”

He was also a fine, intelligent poet. Read 110 Stories or the poem quoted in Teresa’s memorial post at Making Light to see how good he could be when he was being serious. But he also had an extraordinary gift for ex tempore verse that was somehow light, complicated, funny and erudite, all at the same time. One of Kieran’s posts on Thomas Friedman helped indirectly inspire this quickie on mixed metaphor and misprision.

Much have I travell’d on the feet of gold,
And many tumbled walls and maidens seen,
Round many horny Africs have I been
Which bards like bosoms in their welkins hold,
Oft of a spare expanse had I been told
That fence-swung Homer looked on as demesne;
Yet never did I breathe its mountains clean
Till I heard Friedman speak out uncontrolled,
Then felt I like some Cousteau of the skies
When a new bubble undermines his ken,
Or sack-like Falstaff, when with precast eyes
He stared at echoes — and his fellow men
Harked back in multitudes like single spies
Silent, past their peak in Darien.

I don’t think that he’ll ever get the recognition that he deserved; his gifts didn’t fit well with his times. But the world feels poorer and sadder today for his absence.